Build A Brand, But Be Careful of How and What Kind of Brand You Build

I’m a huge believer of building brands. Personal brand, company’s brand, product’s brand etc. If you want to achieve success in (web) business you need to build a brand. Or few brands.

Some time ago Grace, from Freshbooks, asked me a question:

“You’re undoubtedly aware that the way a brand is interpreted by potential customers can help – or hurt the growth of a business. We’d love for you to share your thoughts on the importance of a brand’s appearance when building a customer base. How does the look and feel of a site impact a potential customer’s purchase? Do the tone and voice of your blog match the product/service? Is the customer experience polished and professional from start to finish?”

Sure, the way a brand is interpreted by a potential customer can…

help – or hurt – the growth of a business.

A couple of years ago, when I started to think about building the brand of PayLane, I decided to take a risk. I knew that PayLane was a FinTech business, so it should be known as a secure, well-established company. However, on the other hand… I didn’t want to build such a brand. I didn’t want to build a brand that people would associate with huge offices, employees with ties around their necks and corporate way of doing business.

Even that PayLane was somehow a financial institution (and we all know that being a financial institution is not the sexiest thing on Earth), I preferred to build a brand of awesome startup, than a brand of boring, but also huge and established company.

That’s how Mr. Banks – our Buyer Persona – was born.

That was a huge risk, but we wanted to take that risk. People could not understand why we – financial business – would like to build such a brand. People could not trust us. People could not entrust us with their money. But they did. Luckily they trusted us and taking that risk has paid off.

I would say that we proofed them that being an awesome startup could also mean being secure and fully professional.

The way you build a brand.

It’s easy to say that you should be yourself. Sure, you should. You should not pretend to be someone else on the Internet. But what exactly does that mean?

The answer is as follows…

If you build a brand – no matter if that’s your personal brand or company’s/startup’s brand – you should build a brand that correlates with you.

There are two reasons why:

  1. Sooner or later people will recognize that you are not who you pretend to be.
  2. Sooner or later you will burn out if you pretend to be someone else or you build startup’s brand that does not correlate with you.

What about a site, the tone and voice of your blog etc.?

It’s the same. It should be consistent with who you are and what kind of brand you build. You can’t build a site that looks like from mid-90s if you want to be recognizable as a modern startup. You can’t publish emotional articles on your blog if you want to be known as a calm, quiet introvert man.

Build a website that is consistent to you and brand you build. Build a blog that will be a voice of the real you. If you’re a loud guy – don’t hide it in your blog posts. If you’re not – the same. If you like details – publish long, detailed posts. If you prefer to get straight to the point – publish such short articles.

There’s a place for all kinds of people and brands.

Take a look at Richard Branson or Gary Vaynerchuk (they are extroverts and you can find them almost everywhere). On the other hand, you have e.g. Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates or Marissa Mayer (they are introverts, yet they are extremely successful). Take a look at blogs of Neil Patel (with long articles) and Seth Godin (with really short posts).

The same is with…

the customer experience.

Should it be polished and professional from start to finish?

Sure, it should. But being professional means something completely different for different kinds of businesses. That even means something different for businesses that are focused on young people and those which target group are people 50+.

It all depends… for ones starting emails with ‘Hey Dave!’ is completely fine and for the other ones that could be unprofessional and rude, because they expect to see something like ‘Dear Mr. Smith’.

There is no one and the only one answer for what kind of brand you should build. The only golden rule here is that you need to be consistent with who you really are. 

Any tools that could help?

Grace also asked me…

“Would you recommend an online platform such as FreshBooks to help keep your brand consistent?”

Hmmm… somehow yeah. Because of what she wrote after that…

“We help freelancers and small businesses focus on their passion while we take care of the paperwork.”

I’m a huge believer of delegating whatever you can, whatever is not core for your business, whatever you are not good at. I’m a huge believer in SaaS tools that are dedicated to something (like Slack for internal communication, Freshbooks for invoicing, Dropbox for keeping files in one place, Nozbe for managing tasks etc.).

So somehow I agree with that. Dedicated tools (SaaS tools) may help in keeping the brand consistent. Because thanks to them you may focus only on what you are really good at and on building the brand you want, while not wasting time on other things.

What if the way a brand is interpreted by a potential customer hurts the growth of a business?

That means that you’re doing something wrong.

You don’t need to be like everybody else. You don’t need to build a startup culture in your organization if you don’t feel good with it. You don’t need to be an active commentator on social media if you don’t like it. You don’t need to attend to conferences, run a blog, or do whatever other founders do to sell their products.

You need to be yourself, build a brand that correlates with who you are.

People – including potential customers – love authenticity and authentic founders. They hate liars.

And if you and your business don’t grow – it doesn’t mean that you build a wrong kind of brand. That means that something you do is wrong. Try to do something else, test other hacks, ask someone for help. But keep being you.

Entrepreneur, manager, blogger, man and father.
CEO PayLane, founder Squidility, blogger KarolZielinski.com & KarolZielinski.pl.